Sitka is the oldest town in the Northwest and the ancestral home of the Native tribe, the Tlingits (pronounced “klink-et”). The Tlingits called this area Shee Atika, of which Sitka is a contraction. In 1799, the Russian-American Company – coveting trading routes, fur and timber – claimed the Pacific Northwest for Russia . In 1802, the Tlingits vanquished the Russian settlers. Two years later, the Russians returned with a gunship, eventually forcing the Tlingits to withdraw.
Russia changed the town’s name to New Archangel, and made it the capital of Russian America. By 1821, the Russians and Tlingits began a trade relationship. But in 1867, Russia sold its interests to the United States . The flag-changing ceremony took place in Sitka , which remained capital of Alaska Territory until 1906, when the government moved to Juneau .
Modern-day Sitka provides a fascinating blend of Native roots with Russian and American influences – all amidst breathtaking natural splendor.